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Homemade Taco Seasoning

I love all things Mexican. Food. Clothes. Little native villages perched high up in the mountains. In my home, taco meat and refried beans are veritable staples.

Sadly, store bought taco seasoning is full of nasty stuff with an ingredients label that reads like a chemistry textbook. If you’ve been wondering how to replace those small packets of MSG-riddled spices with something real, you should give this recipe for homemade taco seasoning a try.

Not only is this homemade taco seasoning more nutritious, it’s also cheap! As an eater of Real Food like grass-fed beef, eggs from pastured chickens, and raw milk from pastured cows, managing my grocery budget can be tricky. I’ve discovered two things:

First, the secret to eating well on a budget is to properly manage my kitchen. Absolutely NOTHING gets wasted!

And Second, I’ve simply had to cut other stuff out of our budget to make room for nourishing, real foods. We don’t have cell phones or cable, but we eat like kings!

Homemade Taco Seasoning

The Players

  • 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper (optional)

Click here to see where to find organic, bulk spices.

The How-To
Now for the easy part: mix all the spices together and store in an airtight container. The optional black pepper is to increase the spiciness based on your family’s tastes and preferences. If you don’t like spicy foods, simply leave the black pepper out and/or be sure to adjust that tablespoon of chili powder down.

The amounts listed above make up about 2 Tbsp. of homemade taco seasoning mix — the perfect amount to replace one store bought 1.25oz packet.

If you’re like me, you’ll want to make more of this and store it in your pantry for ease of use next time. So, here’s the recipe quintupled:

  • 1/4 C. plus 1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano
  • 2 1/2 tsp. Paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. Black Pepper (optional)

Click here to see where to find organic, bulk spices.

If you use the quintupled recipe, you’ll measure out 2 Tbsp. of the homemade taco seasoning per pound of meat. Or, if you’re like me, you simply add it to taste.


This post is my own contribution to today’s Fight Back Fridays carnival. Go check it out for more interesting recipes, articles, and anecdotes from the world of Real Food!

(photo by beckmann)
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I am a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD -- food that's sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. I'm also an author and a nutrition educator. I enjoy playing in the rain, a good bottle of Caol Ila scotch, curling up with a page-turning book, sunbathing on my hammock, and watching my three children explore their world.
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54 Responses to Homemade Taco Seasoning
  1. Heather
    July 24, 2009 | 12:32 pm

    This is just what I needed for making tacos this weekend! I often use organic garbanzo beans instead of ground meat or TVP (ick with taco seasoning). I think I might actually have all of these spices in my pantry, too. Thanks. :)

  2. gilliebean
    July 24, 2009 | 12:44 pm

    I’m so excited to have this recipe! Thanks!
    .-= gilliebean

  3. V.
    July 24, 2009 | 1:09 pm

    That ground pepper is not optional!! ;) At least, why would anyone opt out of it?!
    .-= V.

  4. KristenM
    July 24, 2009 | 1:28 pm

    V. — LOL. I think it’s optional for those who will find the heat of the chili powder a bit too much already (certainly not me!).

    Gilliebean & Heather — You’re welcome!

  5. Brittany
    July 24, 2009 | 1:42 pm

    I made this recipe and loved it! But as I was making it, I noticed that one of the listed ingredients in my chili powder was a very vague “spices.” Isn’t that one of the names for MSG? Please tell me I’m wrong! :) Or is there another brand of Chili powder I should be using?

  6. Crystal @ Cafe Cyan
    July 24, 2009 | 1:44 pm

    Love it! I started making my own when I realized I had all the ingredients in my cupboard (why was I buying pre-made mixes?!?) Great post!

  7. Heather
    July 24, 2009 | 2:08 pm

    Thanks!!! I’m going to go whip up a batch of this to keep on hand!

  8. Elizabeth
    July 24, 2009 | 2:11 pm

    I make my own taco seasoning too and it is so much better! My recipe is here:
    .-= Elizabeth

  9. KristenM
    July 24, 2009 | 2:28 pm

    Elizabeth — The advantage of your recipe is that it doesn’t have salt. So, people can salt according to their tastes. I like that.

    Heather & Crystal — You’re welcome. Hope you enjoy.

    Brittany — Yes, I would try to acquire real chili powder rather than a chili powder mix. Sadly “spices” often hides MSG, and without knowing what’s in the spice mix they’re using, you have no idea whether it contains MSG or not. Finding straight up chili powder is usually easy for me to do (but maybe that’s because I’m in Texas!).

  10. Anna
    July 24, 2009 | 3:24 pm

    Another reason to make your own spice blends is there are no hidden gluten ingredients!

  11. Sarah
    July 24, 2009 | 3:47 pm

    I’ve made a similar mix before and it’s fantastic, but the real question is . . . when are you going to share your refried bean recipe? I LOVE refried beans but haven’t been able to consistently get a good flavor from homemade ones and we ditched the cans long ago. . . .

    Waiting with bated breath for those beans . . . :)

    .-= Sarah

  12. KristenM
    July 24, 2009 | 4:04 pm

    Sarah — I wish I had a recipe. I just sort of throw stuff together and it works. I should try to figure the exact amounts of the recipe out, but the gist of it is this:

    In a 6 quart soup pot, pour in enough dried pinto beans to fill 1/4 of the pot. Fill the pan with water up to the halfway point and let sit overnight. In the morning, drain the water and replace it with fresh water. Add salt and let boil 2-4 hours until tender (overcooking them doesn’t matter, since they’ll be mashed anyway.) When the beans are done, drain off most of the liquid, but leave about an inch or two in the bottom of the pot. Add in a can of diced tomatoes with green chiles, a few dashes of soy sauce, and 1/4 C melted butter, then blend with a hand blender until smooth. In a large, deep 12 inch skillet, melt 1 stick of butter and 1/2C tallow. Pour the bean mixture into the skillet and add lots of sea salt, cumin, and taco seasoning to taste. Enjoy! I’ve changed lots of stuff depending on what I’ve got on hand, but the keys seem to be lots of tasty fat, salt, & cumin.

    Anna — Good point!

  13. Betsy
    July 24, 2009 | 6:14 pm

    Holy crap! I’ve never been much of fan of refried beans (being of Yankee origin, you see), but that recipe may make me a convert! All that butter!!! :)

  14. KristenM
    July 24, 2009 | 6:19 pm

    Betsy — So I take it that’s a request to figure out my real recipe and post it?

  15. Jessie
    July 24, 2009 | 7:15 pm

    Huge fan of mexican food here! I have my own taco seasoning recipe as well that has the same exact spices as yours except I do not add oregano. I must try that one next time I make tacos.
    .-= Jessie

  16. Marg
    July 25, 2009 | 8:50 am

    Thanks! I’m anxious to try it. It might be difficult to find ‘real’ chili powder up here in Canada, but I’m going to look!
    .-= Marg

  17. Helen
    July 25, 2009 | 6:40 pm

    Since I don’t eat tortillas now, I will probably add this mixture into a green salad and enjoy a taco flavored salad. Yum!!!!

  18. KristenM
    July 25, 2009 | 7:09 pm

    Helen — That’s how we do it. Or we make “taco bowls” just by piling all the interior contents of tacos into a bowl and eating it straight: taco meat, refried beans, grilled onions and peppers, salsa, avocado, grated cheese, and a shot of chipotle tabasco sauce. YUMMY!

  19. Tammy
    July 25, 2009 | 9:50 pm

    Kristen, this sounds very close to my recipe of homemade taco seasoning but I am very glad I read this post because I didn’t realize I was using a chili powder mix vs. a real chili powder. Grrr! Just when I think I’m getting away from MSG and all the other junk, they end up sneaking it in in other ways. Now I know why I am so driven to just grow my own of everything! sheesh!

    Also please do figure out your recipe for refried beans and post that as well because I love them too!! Thanks.

  20. Raine Saunders
    July 27, 2009 | 12:32 pm

    Great post! I absolutely love Mexican food, and I make my own homemade taco seasoning all the time. This is probably something a lot of people don’t take the time to do, but really, it’s not difficult to do at all and I believe it’s also cheaper as well as healthier.

    Here’s my latest Mexican recipe using those spices…
    .-= Raine Saunders

  21. Daraine
    July 28, 2009 | 5:03 pm

    For chili powder, you can follow Alton Brown’s recipe on foodnetwork. He makes his own from scratch, so you can pick up ingredients that you trust. He uses 3 kinds of dried chile, cumin seeds and some other ingredients…. It turns out great and removes the ambiguity from your ingredients.
    He even has an episode of how to make corn tortillas from scratch, using corn. That’s an experience there!

  22. Erin
    July 30, 2009 | 7:44 am

    Thank you! Thank you! And yes, please post the refried bean recipe!!

  23. Erica
    August 3, 2009 | 11:02 pm

    We do a homemade blend also, only now I’ve gotten lazy and just throw seasonings in there until it tastes just right haha :) Never turns out bad and I think it tastes MUCH better than the crappy little packet I bought years ago.
    .-= Erica

  24. Bachelormon
    November 28, 2009 | 8:12 am

    Tag: cumin substitute

    I found this recipe but had no cumin. What to do? Ask googles for substitute. Found three suggestions: chili powder, coriander,curry. Short story: I used 1/2 chili powser, 1/4 coriander, 1/4 curry, also 1/4 cayenne. Result: a passable taco seasoning.

  25. Meagan
    January 13, 2010 | 8:02 pm

    I LOVE this – I just made for my family tonight. For our taco beef we always use a taco spice seasoning, adding it after browning and draining the beef. This was perfectly spiced. Ive been looking for a replacement for the premixed stuff that we buy at the store. I am going to make up a master recipe as soon as I get more chili powder!

  26. Mel
    March 26, 2010 | 6:53 pm

    Love this recipe! I never thought about making my own taco seasoning. I started making tacos for the family tonight and found I didn’t have the packet mix. This is perfect! My family won’t even know I didn’t use package mix. ONE ADDITION. To “look” like packaged mix I added 1/4 tsp. corn starch and 1/2-3/4 cup water (like mix asks for), and it has a wonderful consistancy. Thanks so much. I’ll make a big batch next time to store. NO more mix for me!

  27. hippygirl
    March 30, 2010 | 10:46 am

    I used this and found it way too salty for us. However, I forgot that and made it again. haha. Shame on me for not writing it down properly. I think I would make it with no salt and then add the salt to taste. I also added more cumin because I just like cumin so much.
    .-= hippygirl´s last blog post …Confessions of a Chicken Keeper =-.

  28. debbie
    June 16, 2010 | 8:26 am

    I was out of taco seasoning last night and had to make my own or at least try to,. and it was okay but it needed something more. I used most everything you have in yours I just think I didnt put enought of it all. I will definitely be making your version. Thanks for sharing.
    .-= debbie ´s last blog post …A cup a cup a cup =-.

  29. Emily
    July 5, 2010 | 7:03 pm

    By chili powder, do you mean plain cayenne pepper, or the mix of cayenne, cumin, etc?
    .-= Emily´s last blog post …State of the garden July ’10 =-.

  30. Connie
    August 21, 2010 | 7:39 am

    Hi Emily,

    I use Spice Hunters Chili Powder Blend, it is fantastic and is made of only spices. They also have a line of organic spices and herbs which I love. My cupboards are filled with over 80 of their spices. Hope this helps…

  31. Enchilada Lover
    November 1, 2010 | 7:52 am

    Sounds great! I just came back from mexico last month and find myself addicted to these incredible enchilada recipes now!! Must go back next year sometime, I suppose, and this time head off of the beaten road a little. Looking to reading more!

  32. Cindi
    December 1, 2010 | 11:51 pm

    Used this tonight and it was great!

    I used ancho chili powder. Oddly enough, I bought the Target Archer Farms brand and it’s pure ancho and organic! I also added a 1/2 tsp of coriander.


  33. chris
    December 14, 2010 | 9:28 pm

    No credit to where you got this recipe? (i.e.; “Taco Seasoning I”)

    • KristenM
      December 14, 2010 | 11:40 pm

      While it’s notable that this recipe and that one are identical, it’s certainly not where I got it. This recipe was handed to me in an antique recipe box, written on a crumbling recipe card from the ’50s. And I’ve been using since before there was an internet!

  34. Brian
    January 31, 2011 | 8:21 pm

    Got to say awesome recipe from scratch!!!!

  35. Erin
    February 20, 2011 | 1:26 pm

    oooh, just found this blog and it is right up my alley. Will be making my own taco seasoning form here on in- thanks for sharing!

  36. Deja
    May 21, 2011 | 7:16 pm

    I just found this recipe and I think i might just try it.It is so much more convienient then going to the store and buying those packets, cuz it seems like whenever i want tacos i can never find a packet at my house

  37. pamela
    May 27, 2011 | 5:12 am

    I am so happy to have this recipe!
    Like you I love Mexican foods and those packages of taco seasoning are just too expensive. Thank you for this!
    You’re going to save me a fortune! LOL

    p.s. You know, this would make a great gift done up in like half pint canning jars wouldn’t it?


  38. Ally
    June 20, 2011 | 5:18 pm

    I felt like I should post, since I’ve been using this recipe for about two years now! I am, like many, allergic to MSG (migraines!) and I was SO excited when I found this… It’s so much better than any mix I’ve ever used. I finally wrote it down and too a screen shot “just in case”… I got tired of holding my breath every time I pull up the bookmarked website in hopes that it’s still here! Thanks so much for posting… and leaving it up!

  39. Jennifer
    August 26, 2011 | 10:13 pm

    So this is awesome! Better than any of the packaged stuff! I use it on ground chicken for a little healthier taco and it is excellent.

  40. Jan
    September 21, 2011 | 1:25 pm

    I’m going to try the taco spice recipe today. Here is my super quick and easy refried bean recipe that I’ve used for years, much better than canned refried beans.
    Frijoles Refritos
    Melt 6 tbsp. butter or oleo in pan.
    Add 2 16-cans drained pinto beans and mash well. Save juice! (I use Bush’s beans)
    Add: 1 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. chili powder, 1/8 tsp. ground cumin, and juice as needed (to desired consistancy). Cook over low heat, stirring often until thick and bubbling. 6 servings. Family size: 1 stick butter, 3 cans beans, 1/4 tsp. of chili powder and cumin.
    You might want to adjust salt to your needs.

    • Jan Shy
      September 21, 2011 | 1:36 pm

      I’m going to try the taco spice recipe today. I have a super quick and easy refried bean recipe that I would like to contribute.

  41. Tamara
    November 7, 2011 | 8:30 pm

    This taco seasoning recipe is SPOT ON! I just made it and had to restain myself from eating the seasoned ground beef straight out of the skillet, lol. I will most defiitely be quintupling this recipe to keep handy in my pantry.

  42. Heather
    December 29, 2011 | 7:43 pm

    I can’t use those seasoning packets at all because of MSG-induced migraines, so this was perfect to satisfy my homemade beef taco craving. So good! Thank you for sharing it!

  43. Andrea
    January 23, 2012 | 7:01 pm

    LOVE IT! Had all the ingredients on hand and now this is the only recipe I will use! The family loves it (although I have to cut the pepper down for the kids :( ) and it saves me from buying the MSG riddled packets. Thanks!

    • Beja Foster
      February 8, 2012 | 12:06 pm

      I am also thankful for cutting the MSG out! Hooray for homemade!!!

  44. Beja Foster
    February 8, 2012 | 12:05 pm

    Thanks so much for posting this! I found you via Google when I was desperate to make some chicken tacos in the crock pot with some leftover homemade salsa and had no taco seasoning. What resulted was the easiest meal I have ever made, and my husband raves about it on and on and on. Thanks for helping me create a new staple for my home for years to come!

    I linked to your recipe for taco seasoning on this post:

    God bless, honey!

  45. Coco
    March 13, 2012 | 7:05 am

    Hello! Stay at home wifey here still trying to gain some experience :) What would I add to this to make it extra spicy? Cayenne or just more red pepper flakes? We love HOT!

  46. Ryan
    April 26, 2012 | 2:24 pm

    I just made this and realized I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to add water after browning the ground beef (when adding the seasoning–like you would with a packet). I saw Mel did that, but she also added corn starch. So would both be options (no water or water and corn starch)? (Sorry–I’m a kitchen newbie!) Thanks!

  47. Beth
    June 5, 2012 | 6:48 pm

    I loved this recipe! I subbed Cajun seasoning in place of the chili powder for a little kick and I must say I am hooked! This is what I’m going to use every time we make tacos. I’m even going to use it for my homemade enchiladas! Thanks! :)

  48. Eric
    July 18, 2012 | 6:54 pm

    Very tasty and much better than the pre-packaged stuff. Although, I looked on the pre-packaged ingredients and all there is in there is spices. I looked at 2 different brands. Didn’t see anything wrong there. Instead of chili powder, which is a mix, I toasted some different chili peppers in a pan, then ground them in a spice grinder. I will definitely be making this recipe from now on.

  49. Melinda
    December 20, 2012 | 10:25 am

    I had saved this recipe and last night was scrolling through my recipes for dinner ideas, and I hit on this and thought “Tacos!!” I already had all the spices on hand except the cumin. Let me say, this recipe is awesome! It’s actually a bit spicier than the packet I used to buy (yes, I added the black pepper), but I like spicy, and my (young adult) kids raved that it’s better than the packet stuff. Plus, none of that weird orange drippy stuff going down your arm when eating the taco! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  50. Kim
    January 28, 2013 | 12:13 am

    If you don’t like spicy foods, I would recommend lessening the crushed red pepper flakes as opposed to the black pepper. Black pepper is not particularly spicy (to me), but red pepper flakes sure as heck are!

  51. Paul Hengstebeck
    June 24, 2014 | 6:10 pm

    Hands down the best taco/mex seasoning I’ve run across. I’ve used it for tacos, nachos, with ground beef, or ground turkey, or chopped chicken breast, or shrimp. I didn’t have sweet paprika, so I substituted smoked paprika. I’m going to mix up a couple of batches for the next camping trip. Pie iron lined with corn tortillas, filled with protein of your choice, cheese, onion, salsa and sour cream on the side, it doesn’t get any better.

    Thanks for a keeper recipe.

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Who Am I?

My name is Kristen Michaelis. I'm a nutrition educator, author, and mother of three. I adore hats, happy skirts, horizons full of storm clouds, the full-bodied feel of wind as I ride motorcylces, reading in my hammock, and a hearty shot of Caol Ila scotch. I'm also a rebel with a cause.
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